Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Process - Steeping Dark Grains

Just looking at my page views and I just hit the ten thousand mark... maybe someone other than my mum actually reads what I write? Anyways, I digress. Lately I've been thinking a lot about how to improve my beer. I definitely believe that there is no substitute for experience. Resources like books, the internet, and other brewers can teach you a lot, but there is nothing like rolling up your sleeves and doin' some brewin' for becoming a better brewer. Nonetheless, I feel that now the way to continue to progress my brewing is not so much through increasingly outlandish recipes (although those will be coming), as through looking at my procedures, trying new techniques, and likely adding more complexity to what I am doing.

One new technique I want to try is steeping dark grains. I've been reading the excellent book Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong, and he talks about how, similar to crystal malts, it is unnecessary to mash dark grains. The high roasting temperatures they are subject to denature the enzymes and break down the proteins and starches. There is nothing left to convert in these grains so the mash effectively becomes a long, hot steep. Similar to coffee, long exposure to hot temperatures can bring out acidity, bitterness, and a certain harshness in beer. Certain styles of beer, such as sweeter stouts and black IPA's really seem to suffer when they have a strong element of this bitter roasted flavour. One option for still incorporating these dark grains is to steep them and then add them in to the end of the boil. I've been thinking about making an oatmeal stout, and it seems like the perfect opportunity to give this method a go as Oatmeal stout is at its best with a touch of sweetness and not too much roasted character to overwhelm the hint of oatmeal in the beer. Check out my next post and read about how well it all goes in my next brewday.

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